Character/s: Merlin, Gwaine
Summary: Merlin really wanted to know the secret of Gwaine’s necklace. Would Gwaine ever open up and tell him?
Word Count: 681
Camelot_drabble Prompt: pt 463: Ring
Author's Notes: unbetaed, Eoin’s ring and symbol on his necklace were from his parents.
Disclaimer: Merlin characters are the property of Shine and BBC. No profit is being made, and no copyright infringement is intended.
Glinting against Gwaine’s neck, the ring was a tantalising mystery. He never took it off, even while fighting, a dangerous thing since someone could reach over and twist the necklace holding it, garrotting Gwaine in the blink of an eye. He didn’t place it on his finger or play with it or anything. It just lay there, driving Merlin mad with questions.
Once in a while, Gwaine would catch Merlin looking at it, then smile, a sad thing, and turn away. He’d make jokes about apples tasting like cheese or dance a jig or delve into honeycombs, stirring up the bees and running away laughing. Diverting attention away from the mystery.
He didn’t hide it, either. It was just there, as much a part of Gwaine’s life as his lustrous hair or the fact that he really liked going to the tavern.
But along with the mystery ring, a curved symbol of power lay next to it, jingling as he moved, lying at the base of his throat when he lay down. Gwaine never mentioned that one, either.
Two mysteries and both Gwaine’s.
It only took Merlin almost dying for Gwaine to give a hint of their importance.
It was a typical day, one that Merlin wished was a little less typical. Bandits, of course, and Arthur chasing them away, Merlin bleeding from a head wound and half-conscious. Gwaine held Merlin there, his head cradled in Gwaine’s lap and him babbling something in a foreign tongue, a tongue Merlin recognised.
“Ne forþgeléore, drúte, ne forþgeléore,” Gwaine whispered, then yelled out “Get help, Merlin’s hurt.”
But there was no one there. They had gone after the bandits leaving Merlin behind and only Gwaine to help.
And Gwaine was shivering and tearing at his tunic, trying to make a bandage perhaps, and babbling, “Ne forþgeléore, drúte, ne forþgeléore. Not again, please not again. Hear me, oh Goddess of Light, save him.”
It took everything in Merlin not to scream when Gwaine moved. He could feel the fabric being wrapped around his head, the gushing of blood slowing to a trickle, and Gwaine’s gentle hands probing to see what else was hurt. Merlin wished he wouldn’t. His brain was already beating a loud drum against his skull, and his mouth tasted of iron, not a good sign.
But he couldn’t let Gwaine think that he was dying. Groaning, Merlin reached up to grab Gwaine’s tunic, but his hand tangled in the necklace. Instead of jerking away, Gwaine let Merlin drag him down. “So you’re alive then. Thank the Goddess.”
“Drúte?” Merlin croaked.
“Ah, you heard that.” Gently pulling Merlin’s fingers away, Gwaine moved again, settling down to cushion Merlin’s head. “It means….”
“I know what it means. It’s of the Old religion, language ancient and powerful. Beloved friend.” Merlin opened his eyes, squinting to keep out the light which was burning a hole straight into his brain. He closed them again.
“Well, best we don’t tell Arthur, then. Seeing how he’s a bit skittish about old religions and such,” Gwaine said, his voice soft and low.
“And the beloved friend part?” Merlin said, trying to smile and not succeeding. His head was still killing him.
“Best we don’t tell him about that, either.” There was a hint of amusement there.
“And not again?” Merlin said.
There was shocked silence, long enough that Merlin forced his eyes open. Above him, Gwaine was holding the ring and the symbol between his fingers, his face etched in sorrow. “Yeah, not again.”
“Anything you want to tell me?” Merlin said, pushing himself to sit up. It might not be a good idea. The world was spinning and the trees dancing a bit.
Gwaine looked down at the ring and the silver symbol, then pulled them up to his mouth and kissed both things, as solemn as any vow, before letting them drop to settle at thebase of his throat.
“No,” Gwaine said.
There was a story there, one that Merlin didn’t know. But if Gwaine wasn’t going to share, Merlin wasn’t going to pry.
He never asked again.